Alleged Madison School Shooter Will Not Be Tried As An Adult
Update 3/24 at 1:52 p.m.: The Butler County Juvenile Court tells WVXU that Prosecutor Mike Gmoser has filed a motion to not accept the waiver of appearance. Hancock is now scheduled to be arraigned Friday at 1 p.m.
Update 4:54 p.m.: Hancock's attorney tells the Butler County Juvenile Court that he plans to file a waiver of arraignment Thursday. This means the next schedule court appearance is April 5.
Original Post 10:14 a.m.: Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser says the now 15-year-old who allegedly shot two classmates at Madison Jr/Sr High School last month will not be tried as an adult. In a statement, Gmoser says the case of James Austin Hancock says a Butler County Grand Jury returned an indictment on four counts of attempted murder, four counts of felonious assault, and one count of inducing panic, all felonies.
The release notes:
The charges of attempted murder and felonious assault involve the same four victims and if the Judge or jury determines that attempted murder applies, the felonious assault charges will be merged. However, in the event the Judge or jury determines attempted murder does not apply, the Judge or jury will have the immediate option of considering the application of the felonious assault charges.
The Grand Jury also determined Hancock is a "Serious Youthful Offender." Gmoser says this means he will not be transferred to adult court. However, should a jury find Hancock guilty of attempted murder, he would receive a mandatory "blended sentence."
The Judge will send the juvenile to State supervision until the juvenile is twenty one years of age followed by a sentence as an adult for a period the Judge will determine. This period, however, will only be imposed if the juvenile commits a violent offense or breaks supervision rules while in a State facility until age twenty one. If the Judge or jury only finds the juvenile delinquent for the offense of felonious assault, SYO status is only an option and is not mandatory. In that event, the Judge may impose what is referred to as traditional treatment with a wide range of less restrictive options for rehabilitation.
Authorities say Hancock entered the Jr/Sr high school cafeteria on the morning of Feb. 29 and shot two students. Two others were injured. He fled but was apprehended just outside the school. He was charged March 1 with charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of felonious assault, inducing panic, and making terrorist threats, all felonies.
The Butler County Sheriff has said they believe they know a motive but he's declined to discuss the matter.
Two more Madison school district students were charged in connection with the shooting. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says the two boys knew the suspect, Austin Hancock, had a gun and planned to take it to school. They are each charged with failure to report a crime, which is a fourth degree misdemeanor.
What Happens Next?
Gmoser says Hancock will now be arraigned. During the court hearing he'll enter a plea of true or not true, just as he did during his initial court appearance. Hancock entered a not true plea March 1. That is the juvenile court version of a not guilty plea.
Gmoser says Hancock will likely be arraigned later this week.